A relatively late addition to my gig itinerary, this one, and it was thanks to my kids! Rachel was always going to go to see Texan pop-punk clown princes Bowling For Soup with her fellow Soup uber-fans Debbie and Steven, but I initially wasn’t up for it enough to justify sorting a babysitter out. However our kids then announced they wanted to go for a sleepover at Grandma’s during half term, so I persuaded Rach that this should be the night, rather than Gaz’ Wednesday date, so I could enjoy some big dumb punk rock fun, then get a lie-in the next morning!
So we set off at 6, picked up our friends then had a queue-punctuated journey down, parking up about 7.30 and consequently completely missing first support Patent Pending, who were on at the unfeasibly early time of 6.15! Main support The Dollyrots sounded clumsy and formulaic, so we stayed in the bar instead, popping into the hall and down onto our usual stage left spot about 8, just before the entrance of the Soup, to their own composed opening track.
Kicking off with the hooky “High School Never Ends”, the gig initially promised to venture seamlessly into the usual BFS formula for fun, particularly when vocalist Jaret took a phone from an audience member who was using it during the first song break, then handed it to Chris to chat up the caller! However things took a turn for the worse, as Jaret was clocked good and proper by a phone thrown by some dickhead audience member, and his reaction briefly threatened to turn the atmosphere a little nasty, as he called the guy out to either leave or come onstage and let his guitar tech kick his ass. Thankfully, he gave the guy one number to think about it – the highly appropriately titled “I Don’t Need This” – which seemed to calm him down as well. Normality restored!
An excellent early “Almost” was preceded by Jaret calling for the audience to form, “one big happy Bowling For Soup chorus,” then an incredible toughened up version of Fountains Of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” (“if you’ve come here to hear our big hit “Stacy’s Mom”, that was Fountains Of Wayne, but seeing as we get the credit for it anyway, we might as well play it!”). By now the Soup were well in their stride, with the between song banter and antics as spontaneous, scatological and entertaining as their infectiously tuneful, if a little one-dimensional, harmonic US poppy punk rock. Introducing “Ohio”, Jaret announced, “this is about the great state of Texas, and I’m looking forward to returning for the Mexican food and my wife’s vagina!” “Punk Rock 101” saw a mid-song break for the band and their support acts (who’d been gathering in the corner of the stage during the set in an impromptu “bar”) to pose for photos onstage, whilst the PA played Van Halen’s “Jump”, and the line-up jumped at the appropriate points. Jaret then labelled his band, “Bowling For Soup; the band you can wave to!” before introducing, “the best song ever,” a splendid “Girl All The Bad Guys Want”, which got a frenzied reaction from this as-usual very young but knowledgeable crowd, who’d been singing along to pretty much everything. And, despite myself, I was pretty much joining in as well!
Set closer “1985” brought a thoroughly entertaining hour and 45 minutes set to a close, before “My Weiner” and a superb “The Bitch Song” saw the band once again bringing on the support acts to join in (Jaret and The Dollyrots' female vocalist banging heads while harmonising!) for an all-inclusive finale. They’re never going to pull and trees up in the creativity stakes, but they know what they do and do it very bloody well indeed. I’ve been to better gigs this year, but if you want sheer dumb fun and punk rock frolics, you know you’re going to get that from Bowling For Soup. And that’s no bad thing!